The Original Wonders of the World eventually became so old, most of them have since crumbled into nothingness. The exception being; The Pyramids of Giza, (as seen below), which we have been lucky enough to visit. It matters little how any of these sites rank, because we all have different desires in the kind of travel we do, or enjoy, so with that thought, here are my choices for man-mad and nature-made wonders I have seen.
I will never forget seeing these Pyramids for the first time. This first trip to Egypt was my favorite. The Great Pyramid of Giza is a defining symbol of Egypt and the last of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World. It is located on the Giza plateau near the modern city of Cairo and was built over a twenty-year period during the reign of the king Khufu (2589-2566 BCE, also known as Cheops) of the 4th Dynasty.
Currently, the NEW seven wonders of the world are in great debate, but one thing is for sure, there are a couple of good lists circulating out there. Being a World traveler, and having seen some of the most astounding sites known to man, I have created my own list. I made my selection, based mostly on how the “wonders” made me feel when I saw the magnificence for the first time, as well as the mystery behind the origin of the sites.
SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD ~Man-Made
Machu Picchu ~near Agua-Caliente, Peru 🇵🇪 I knew I would make it to Machu Picchu one day. I just had to see it for myself. The adventure is in the journey to get to these ruins, so enjoy every step of the way. Once there, take your time, and enjoy every square inch of this beautiful place! A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983 and designated one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Historians believe Machu Picchu was built at the height of the Incan Empire, which dominated western South America in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was abandoned an estimated 100 years after its construction. Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca site located on a ridge between the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountains in Peru. It sits 7,970 feet above sea level on the eastern slope of the Andes and overlooks the Urubamba River hundreds of feet below. The site’s excellent preservation, the quality of its architecture, and the breathtaking mountain vista it occupies, has made Machu Picchu one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world today. The site covers 80,000 acres of terraced fields on the edge of the site, were they were once used for growing crops; likely maize and potatoes.
The Treasury Building ~Petra, Jordan 🇯🇴 It was a long way to go, to see the sandstone carved city, but it was so worth it. The passing of time is taking a toll on the sandstone structures, so I am very glad we got to see it when we did. One day, this city will return to the earth in dust form. Inhabited since prehistoric times, this Nabataean caravan-city, situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, was an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia. Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, and is surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. It is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, where ancient Eastern traditions blend with Hellenistic architecture. Although the original function is still a mystery, The Treasury was probably constructed in the 1st century BC. However, in reality the urn represented a memorial for royalty.
The Taj Mahal ~Agra, India 🇮🇳 who doesn’t love, love? Sunrise is the best time to tour the Taj Mahal and grounds. Yes, the Taj is “all that!” The mausoleum in Agra is India’s most famous monument, and a sublime shrine to eternal love. Built from between 1632 and 1647 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the Taj Mahal was dedicated to Jahan’s favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth.
Stone Churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia 🇪🇹 We spent a month touring Ethiopia. It was a long hard trip, in primitive lands. But, off-the-beaten paths does take us to amazing sites. Lalibela Stone Churches stood out to me, because it was hard to imagine the work involved. to create such masterpieces! My favorite church is called Beta Giyorgis as seen in above photo. Only the top of the church is seen from above ground. We spent a month of tour time in Ethiopia, and saw many incredible sites, but the Rock churches were my favorite stop of all. In a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia, just over 700 miles form the capital city of Addis Ababa, are eleven medieval monolithic churches, carved out of rock. Their building is attributed to King Lalibela who set out to construct in the 12th century a “New Jerusalem,” after Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the holy Land.
Angkor Archeological Park ~Siem Reap Cambodia 🇰🇭 Visiting Siem Reap is a bit of a no-brainer if you enjoy ancient ruins. There is no place on earth like this place. We would spend several days, in intense heat, getting dusty, dirty, hot and tired, to see the entire park, but I would do it all over again. It was that good! Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Stretching over some 154 square miles and is has over 100 intricately carved temples, with Angkor Wat being the main attraction of all. Angkor Archaeological Park comprises of the most magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom; the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations. UNESCO has set up a wide-ranging program to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings. Angkor Wat is, by the way, the largest religious structure on earth. Angkor Wat is an enormous Buddhist temple complex located in northern Cambodia. It was originally built in the first half of the 12th century as a Hindu temple. Originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, Angkor Wat became a Buddhist temple by the end of the 12th century.
Potala Palace ~Lhasa, Tibet 🇨🇳 It was a very interesting trip, to tour overland in Tibet. I loved everything I saw, but this Palace was very impressive, and I still think about it to this day. It is huge, and is in very good condition. The Potala Palace, regarded as landmark and the symbol of Tibet, is a great giant palace consisting of many houses, towers, and chapels. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Potala Palace is the highest (in altitude) palace in the world. Because of its spectacular architecture style, it is honored as one of the most beautiful architectural buildings in the world. As the historic ensemble of Lhasa, Potala Palace,(as seen above, together with the exceptional Jokhang Temple, and Norbulingka make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main buildings of Potala Palace are situated on the Red Hill by the side of Lhasa River. It is not only a splendid palace, but also a treasure house where you can see precious arts and learn Tibetan culture and history. Because of its brilliant arts and history, travelers see it as the number one must-see attraction in Tibet. By climbing the steps up to the top, you can see the great views of Lhasa city, as well as the beautiful plateau landscape far away.
Stonehenge ~Scotland 🏴 Being on my first European trip, many, many things stood out to me; England, Scotland and Wales, but I love the Mystic of Stonehenge. I felt really great energy there, and I loved visiting! A World Heritage Site, Stonehenge is the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world. Together with inter-related monuments and their associated landscapes, they help us to understand Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and mortuary practices. Stonehenge, in many peoples’ minds, is the most mysterious place in the world. The set of stones are laid out in concentric rings and horseshoe shapes on the empty Salisbury Plain of Scotland. Stonehenge is one of the best known ancient wonders of the world. The 5,000 year old henge monument became a World Heritage Site in 1986. Despite numerous theories, no-one knows for certain the reason why Stonehenge was built. The stones that form the inner ring came from the Preseli Mountains in Wales.
MY SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD ~Nature– Made
The Santorini Volcano Caldera ~Santorini; Aegean Sea, Greece 🇬🇷 The current caldera was formed about 3600 years BC, during the Minoan eruption. Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni were formed as a result of multiple, initially submarine eruptions at the center of the caldera. Although dormant, Santorini is an active volcano. Last eruption: January to February 1950. I have always been fascinated by volcanos and have visited many around the world. The caldera is special, because during our long-term stay in Greece, on Santorini, during the COVID19 pandemic lockdown, we had daily views of the caldera, and we could hear the booming and jet engine sounds of the volcano, quite a bit during our stay. The locals say that when it erupts again, the whole Cliffside of Thira and Fira, will fall into the sea. This is a dreadful thought, but Mother Nature is quite fierce.
Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak ~Jejudo Island, South Korea 🇰🇷 South Korea was interesting, and I loved getting to eat so much Bi Bim Bap, but my favourite stop was flying to Jejudo Island. There is much to see on the Island, so it was a good choice to make the trip over, but this Peak was really beautiful. It was a bit of hike to make the peak, but the stone trail is very good. Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak rose from under the sea in a volcanic eruption over 100,000 years ago. Located on the eastern end of Jejudo Island, there is a huge crater at the top of Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak. The crater is about 1,970 feet in diameter and 296 feet high. With the 99 sharp rocks surrounding the crater, it looks like a gigantic crown. While the southeast and north sides are cliffs, the northwest side is a verdant grassy hill that is connected to the Seongsan Village. The ridge provides an ideal spot for walks and for horse riding as well. The sunrise from the crater is magnificent. Also the Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak surrounded by bright yellow colored canola flowers in the spring is truly a sight to behold.
Mount Everest ~Himalayas in Tibet 🇨🇳 Seeing this Majestic mountain up close and personal was really special. In the photo above, we were at a lookout point, to see our first glimpse of the mountain. We would eventually make our way to the Base Camp, where we were much closer, but I will always remember this first site, on a 10-day overland tour of Tibet. Reaching 29,029 feet above sea level, Mount Everest is the highest mountain on Earth, and thought to be at least 60 million years old. Located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas, the mountain’s summit straddles the border separating China and Nepal. The mountain’s height was first determined in 1856. The Great Trigonometric Survey of British India pegged the mountain, known to them as Peak XV, at 29,002 feet. But, those surveyors were at a disadvantage because Nepal would not grant them entry due to concerns that the country would be invaded or annexed. The current accepted elevation was determined by an Indian survey in 1955 and backed up by a 1975 Chinese measurement.
The Northern Lights~Fairbanks, Alaska USA 🇺🇸 I have visited Alaska many times, but on this one, I get to see the Aurora Borealis lights! I was in Alaska on a land and sea cruise, and was overnighting in Fairbanks. For some reason I couldn’t sleep, so I got up to look outside, and there were the lights. I quickly ran outside to enjoy the show! Northern lights are called by their scientific name; aurora borealis, and they are bright dancing lights of the aurora, and actual collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. Polar lights (aurora polaris) are a natural phenomenon found in both the northern and southern hemispheres that can be truly awe inspiring.
Grand Prismatic Spring ~Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming USA 🇺🇸 The Grand Prismatic Spring is a natural wonder, and a huge hot spring in Yellowstone Park, and is well known for its vivid rainbow ring of colors. I have been to Yellowstone a couple of times. On this particular trip, I had been backpacking for about a week. We ended are pack trip at Old Faithful, which is also impressive, but the spring is so pretty in real life. First discovered in the early 1800’s, amidst the geysers and sulfurous bubblings of Yellowstone National Park, the record setting natural wonder has been stunning visitors for over a century. The pool is a piercing blue, surrounded by rings of color ranging from red to green. The otherworldly effect is caused by varieties of pigmented bacteria and microbes that thrive in the warm, mineral abundant waters surrounding the hot spring. Changing along with the seasons the colors fade and grow more deep depending on what type of bacteria is thriving in the weather at the time. The center of the pool, where the water boils up from underground is so hot that the water is actually sterile. This produces a shockingly clear and bold blue color that the spring maintains year-around. The Grand Prismatic Spring is one of America’s more beautiful sites to look at, but be aware, as the spring is hot enough to the touch, and will likely melt your skin from bone. Another example of the power of Mother Nature.
The Grand Canyon ~Carved by the Colorado River in Arizona, USA 🇺🇸 I have made many trips to the Grand Canyon, starting when I was just a young girl. Since that time I have returned to raft down the Colorado river, on a 4-night adventure; being flown in to the put-in point, by helicopter. Another favorite trip was riding mules from the top of the North Rim to the bottom of the canyon. I would spend the night in a log cabin, get fed the most amazing barbecued steaks for dinner and a bounty of a breakfast in the morning, before mounting back up on my trusty Mule called Buttermilk, to climb our way back up to the North Rim. I liked doing it so much, I want to do it again, and take my husband this next time. Very memorable! The Grand Canyon is 277 miles in length. At its widest point the Grand Canyon stretches 18 miles across. At its narrowest point it stretches 4 miles across. The Grand Canyon is around 6000 feet deep. How old is The Grand Canyon? Nobody really knows for sure, as it is a hodgepodge of old and new sections, as the researchers found in a recent study published in the Nature Geoscience journal. Some scientists believe that the Grand Canyon is 70 million years old. Others contend that the natural wonder is only between five and six million years old.
The Cliffs of Moher ~West Coast Ireland 🇮🇪 These Cliffs are one of the most outstanding coastal features of Ireland. There is nothing in Ireland that I didn’t love visiting, but these cliffs were a stand-out for me, because of their beauty and wicket danger of being allowed to walk right up to the edge of the cliffs! Being able to see the Cliffs on a beautiful clear day, was very lucky, too. I think they call this “The luck of the Irish.” The Cliffs are located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare, They rise to 390 feet above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head, and reach their maximum height of 702 feet, just north of O’Brien’s Tower; a few miles to the north. From the Cliffs of Moher on a clear day, one can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, as well as the Twelve Pins and the Maum Turk mountains in Connemara, Loop Head to the south and the Dingle Peninsula and Blasket Islands in Kerry.
Padar Island ~Komodo National Park, Indonesia 🇮🇩 When I took this hike up to the viewpoint, I was completely blown away! Komodo National Park is a beautiful place, and this birds-eye view game me a chance to see it as a whole, on such a beautiful day! The island of Padar and part of Rinca were established as nature reserves in 1938. Komodo Island was declared a nature reserve in 1965, and in January 1977 as a biosphere reserve under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme. The island is located between Komodo Island and Rinca Island. It’s the third largest island in the Komodo National Park. Padar Island is part of the Komodo National Park and crowned as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Komodo Dragon can no longer be found on this island, due to the illegal hunting and lack of food, but some guides tell visitors there are at least three Komoda Dragon still living on Padar. Since we were allowed to freely walk around Padar Island, unlike other Islands in the Park, (because there ARE Komodo dragons) Im going to guess there are no longer Dragons to be found on Padar. If its Komodo dragons you want to see, then go to Komodo Island, and take a guided hike. It was very hot, and very dry, but we found them, and they are incredible!